When I think back to my first year of college, I think of the girl I was. I was so unsure of myself and my future. Growing up primarily as an only child (I have three half-sisters that don’t live with me), I sought out the sorority experience for the sisterhood aspect. Of course, I had thought about the other benefits like philanthropy and service, fun events and cute shirts. But, I really wanted to make those lifelong connections with other women. Not once did it occur to me that the experience I would have might lead to a career path.
I accepted my bid to Sigma Sigma Sigma (Tri Sigma) in the spring of 2016, and although that was four years ago, I still remember the day vividly. I remember getting tons of text messages from my new sisters saying things like “I’m so excited to get to know you,” and “I can’t wait to see what you’ll do in this chapter.” This love and acceptance later turned into encouragement to take on committee chair positions and find a passion for leadership that I had never experienced before. I felt such a great sense of pride and belonging when I was with my sisters and I wanted others to have the same great experience I was having. Two officer terms later, my senior year was quickly approaching and I knew I had to figure out what my next steps after graduation would look like.
During the summer going into my senior year, I had the opportunity to serve as a mentor at one of Tri Sigma’s national leadership programs. It was there that I was paired with an awesome alumnae co-mentor who was a student affairs professional. Through her, I learned more about the field of higher education and the opportunities available to continue working on my passion post-graduation. I went home from the weekend inspired and ready to fully dive into a Google search frenzy. I joined Facebook group after Facebook group and scrolled through dozens of universities’ websites researching different graduate-level programs. I decided to post in one of the groups asking for program recommendations and got a response that would change my life.
An alumnus from my university suggested reaching out to my chapter advisor, who had been a consultant for Tri Sigma herself. He said that being a consultant would give me the opportunity to travel and visit different universities in person while building upon my leadership skills. Once he put this idea into my head I was sold, and I would spend the next few weeks researching everything it took to be a consultant. By the end of the summer, I finally had direction and a new goal to work toward. I headed back to school, excited to take on my senior year but dreading one requirement to graduate – finding an internship.
Attending a school in suburban southern New Jersey didn’t allow for many internship opportunities, especially ones related to my major (Communication Studies). I remember tirelessly looking through job posting sites and applying to opportunities sent by my professors to no avail. Just as I was getting desperate to find an internship, one of my professors assigned us what I thought would be just another project. She asked us to do a full social media analysis on any organization we felt passionate about- of course, I chose my sorority. The assignment required us to pick a “competitor” or similar organization to compare our research to so I chose my friend Julia’s sorority, Delta Phi Epsilon. After clicking through their website, I found something interesting- they had internship opportunities. Something about this felt like a sign to me, so I reached out asking for more information. Before I knew it, I was interviewing for (and was offered) my dream internship.
My experience working at Delta Phi Epsilon’s International Headquarters (IHQ) provided me with the most valuable skills and prepared me for the workforce. It was there that I achieved personal and professional goals and developed bonds with Panhellenic sisters. The staff at IHQ always supported my goals and made me feel like an appreciated member of the team. Because of them, I felt confident enough to continue chasing my dream of working in higher education.
After months of virtual interviews, an in-person interview, and many words of encouragement from coworkers and friends, I finally received the phone call I’d been waiting for. It was a Monday morning in April when I answered the call, anxious to hear what the news on the other line might be. When I heard the words “Tri Sigma would like to offer you a position as a Regional Consultant for the 2019-2020 school year,” I may or may not have cried. Feelings of joy, pride and excitement set in as I realized what was happening. I was at work, so naturally, I ran into my boss’s office to celebrate the news we had been waiting months to hear. Throughout this celebration, I couldn’t help but reflect on my sorority journey – how I may not have been in this same situation if I hadn’t gone through with recruitment my freshman year. I thought about the hours and energy spent planning events, attending meetings and working hard to better my chapter. I especially thought of the three times I’d changed my major because I was so unsure of my future.
This past year, as I have served as a member of the Tri Sigma consultant team, I have met so many empowered women who continue to inspire me on a daily basis. I’ve sat in countless student centers, drank too many iced coffees and have spent more hours on FaceTime than I thought was humanly possible. Through the consultant team, I’ve made nine lifelong friends who never fail to make me laugh when I want to cry and push me to do my best. Above all, this year has taught me that sisterhood is so much more widespread than just my collegiate chapter and how much I value that. When asked why I joined a sorority, my response is simple- “To find my people and my purpose,” and my experience has been just that.